A metaphor is a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible object to represent a less tangible object or some intangible quality or idea; e.g., "Her eyes were glistening jewels."

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Where to use the word “tumbleweed”

What is the correct place to use the word tumbleweed? Can we use it as a metaphor for a person who always irritates us?
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167 views

Choosing a proper article or word for metaphor [closed]

I'm a breaking wave, because I can't get away from the sea called the world. I'm the breaking wave, because I can't get away from the sea called the world. Which article is proper for metaphor? The ...
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2answers
113 views

sow the seeds for (whence definite article? )

I have a quote from an article in The Economist: But they could re-establish a grip on large parts of the south and east of the country, give succour to al-Qaeda, and sow the seeds for a new ...
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10k views

Origin of “to have a cow”

The phrase "to have a cow" is defined as "to be very worried, upset, or angry about something" in Free Dictionary Online. Other sources also define it to mean to react very strongly and emotionally. ...
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1answer
177 views

What “a man who is happy to lie in the gutter, and watch while other climb mountain” is like?

In Jeffery Archer’s fiction, “The Fourth Estate,” there is a scene Keith Townsend, one of two heroes featured as the owner of the largest communication empire in Australia responds the questions fired ...
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371 views

Metaphor for an important discovery

"Joe Blogg's Damascus" can be used as a metaphor to denote a sudden turning point in attitude, behaviour or some other feature of Joe Blogg's life. What would be a similar metaphor for an important ...
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274 views

What metaphor can I use for a collection of notes/facts?

I'm trying to come up with a metaphor that represents a collection of facts/notes around one thing. I've tried "deck" and "notebook" but they don't really work. Any ideas?
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149 views

How different is “he is a voice of reason awakening the public” from “he has a voice of reason awakening the public”?

In association with the question on Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Senator Rand Paul in the Time Magazine article “2013 Time 100” that I posted earlier today, I have an additional question about the ...
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323 views

Proverb/Idiom for Free from certain problems only to get trapped into other? [duplicate]

I am looking for a figure of speech which means something vaguely like this: "Free from certain problems only to get trapped into other" Is there a proverb or phrase for this because I am not ...
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250 views

Phrase for someone taking over business when you skip for humanity

Is there a witty or general saying of indicating the act of taking over a business when a person, business or country skips an opportunity for general benevolence? Examples: If I don't sell weapons ...
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2answers
429 views

What do R-rated and X-rated mean here?

From a course website for Brownian Motion and Stochastic Calculus Recommended Reading: R-Rated Stochastic Differential Equations: An Introduction with Applications (6th edition) by B. ...
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1answer
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Meaning of the phrase “I am all ears” [closed]

I was going through Stack Overflow and I noticed this phrase. I am all ears Is it some spelling error of "I am all yours" or does it mean something like "I am eager to listen"? What is meant by ...
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241 views

Origin of “Knee-jerk” [closed]

I like to read the Economist to keep my English up to date. And today, reading the following news I came across the above mentioned expression. Merriam Webster defines it as: reacting in a ...
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Phrase for overusing just-learned skills?

Is there a saying or word for indicating the overuse of something you just newly learned? Say you were happy with a hammer and a nail and then somebody taught you the virtues of a screw and ...
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5answers
173 views

Metaphorical use of “patricide”

In Swedish, the word for patricide (fadermord) is commonly used in a metaphorical sense for the act of the disciple, usually publicly, turning on their teacher or benefactor (which may be a person or ...
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2answers
111 views

Is it suitable to use “trump card” in scientific papers?

Suppose you improved an old method with a novel technique. Is it OK to say that it (your technique) is your trump card in paper? If not, what is your suggestion?
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168 views

Is the “Beltway Stop" a popular metaphor meaning a concurrence of events or things?

I'm interested in the phrase, “Beltway Stop in the Oscar Race” which is the title of an article appearing in December 21 New York Times. It comments on the concurrence of movies focused on the ...
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6answers
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The difference between an analogy and a metaphor?

Many a time I've asked what the difference is between an analogy and a metaphor. I've asked it to my teacher, on internet sites, to my parents, so on and so forth. I got a different answer every time, ...
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2answers
469 views

Is there a term for metaphors built upon double entendres?

I was thinking deeply about figurative language today, and I read a sentence that must be an example of a specific type of figurative language, but I didn't remember learning about it and couldn't ...
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2answers
847 views

Meaning of “95 percent Kabuki theater”

I assume conference goers are not usually performing Kabuki, so please explain this metaphor from The New York Times: [the financial conference at] Bretton Woods was itself 95 percent Kabuki ...
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5answers
207 views

Is 'entrance ticket' used metaphorically?

I want to say something about parenthood being constructed in our culture as the thing that allows one to enter adult society. Could I say parenthood is an entrance ticket to adult society? Would a ...
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2answers
305 views

How popular are the terms “software” and “hardware” outside the computer world?

If I’m not mistaken, the terms software and hardware were ordinary English words, but they have been widely popularized by popularity of computers. How much they are common (and acceptable by native ...
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695 views

What does “Sautéed” mean in “Someone who has not sautéed in a subject”?

Maureen Dowd article titled, “Neocons Slither Back” in September 15 New York Times begins with the following sentence: “Paul Ryan has not sautéed in foreign policy in his years on Capitol Hill. ...
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Use of American-Indian “How” in British English

These are excerpts from Le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Jerry Westerby screwed up his face in perplexity. 'That's what the boy wanted to tell me, you see, George. That's what he was ...
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2answers
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Why can humour be dry but not wet?

Humour that is presented in a matter of fact way, as it weren't even an attempt to be funny, can be described as dry. And any sort of writing or information can be dry if it's overly factual in ...
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Understand the meaning of “tall order”

I was wondering why a "tall order" means a formidable task or requirement? Is it a metaphor? If so, how shall I understand it?
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475 views

Does the sentence “His confident visage hid insecurity” make sense?

I was wondering if this sentence makes sense, and if it does, is the meaning of visage in this sentence metaphoric? His confident visage hid insecurity.
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Roy Hodgson's “Church in the centre of the village” expression

Listening to the current England football manager, Roy Hodgson, speaking on the radio, he used a very curious expression while speaking about his team: "We have to try to get back to putting the ...
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5answers
392 views

Term, blend-word, or metaphor for being social but with boundaries [closed]

I'm looking for a term, word or metaphor for being social but within rules or boundaries. I don't like the word privacy as it has a negative connotation. I think the word social is overused or ...
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194 views

'harvest' as a metaphor — alternatives

I was wondering if it is fine to write From this project, I have learned [blah blah], and this is the most important harvest I have received from this project. What is a better metaphor or ...
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“Steamroller” to describe a person as very determined

Can "steamroller" be used to describe a person like in the following sentence? He is like a steamroller; nothing will stop him from getting work done. Or are there any other meanings to the word ...
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About the use of metaphorical language

I understand that when being metaphorical you're saying that something IS something, for example: "The moon is a ball of cheese". Because I'm saying that the moon IS a ball of cheese it is of course ...
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214 views

What is meant by “the passive voice remains 'an important arrow in the rhetorical quiver'”?

I'm interested in reading a series of the art and craft of writing by Constance Hale, a San Francisco-based journalist in the New York Times. The 4th in the series on NYT April 30 issue deals with the ...
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189 views

Contract metaphor for preconditions and postconditions [closed]

English is not my primary language but I'm "forced" to write code and code's comments in English. I'm now trying to develop a PHP code (doesn't really matter this aspect) like this: function ...
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Origin and exact meaning of “taken to the cleaners”

I know the meaning of this phrase by context, but the German analogs are no literal translations of this phrase and very dissimilar metaphors, meaning roughly: being tricked into something being ...
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Finding a suitable English translation of “An old donkey pulls all the weight all alone”

A Hungarian colleague of mine just impressed upon me the idiom An old donkey pulls all the weight all alone. The phrase itself isn't a common English idiom (not to my knowledge, anyway). I think ...
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9answers
739 views

What is the metaphoric antonym to “paycheck to paycheck living?”

Is there any metaphoric antonym to “pay check to paycheck living”? In Japanese we have the word, ‘Kirigirisu zoku’ – people who live like a grasshopper who squanders money and not prepare for winter ...
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Similar contrast [closed]

I'm writing an essay on metaphors. I have the following section: A final connection between Atticus Finch and a suit of armour is their ability to carry others’ skins. A suit of armour holds ...
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3answers
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Meaning of “it's the tie to go along with X's tux”

I found this when learning underscore.js (a programming framework). The introduction says: It's the tie to go along with jQuery's tux. Does it mean that it is to be used along with jQuery or is ...
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Another way to say “fulfill your dream”

What's another phrase or metaphor that means "to fulfill your dream" or "make your dreams a reality?"
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2k views

Metaphorical antonym of “crutch”

Often times something is referred to as being a "crutch" for something, meaning they rely on it. What would be a suitable opposite to this metaphor? EDIT: To rephrase: What's a good metaphor/term for ...
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260 views

Is it possible to use the verb “torture” in a figurative sense?

Is it possible to use the verb "torture" in a tropical sense? I mean not in a physical sense. For example: Linda: "So what? Did you see Jack?" Tom: "Yes" Linda: "So did you talk to him ...
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4answers
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“Let's burn that bridge when we come to it” – is this sort of idiom mixing considered a pun, and if so, does it have a specific name?

I couldn't come up with a short title, but the upside is that there is not much needed to be said in the body of the question! For @dmr (and others), it mixes “let's cross that bridge when we come ...
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332 views

Analogy for arising difficulties

I'm looking for a metaphor or analogy for experiencing more and more difficulties (after getting more familiar with a certain teaching or art). I think I have seen a few in the past but I can't think ...
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2answers
3k views

Does the term “witch-hunt” apply when referring to dealing with a real problem?

Should the term "witch hunt" only be used when dealing with a problem that does not exist, as in witchcraft, or does the term also apply when a problem does exist, but those dealing with it are ...
4
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2answers
336 views

Does “with the descriptive noun of other noun” count as a simile?

In school, we're taught that similes are analogies using "like" or "as". This is clearly just a mnemonic for a comparison between two distinct objects. Metaphors on the other hand combine the two ...
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2k views

How did kool-aid come to be the drink of fanboys?

Why does Kool-Aid relate to being something's fanboy/fangirl?
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Is “he runs like a cheetah” a kind of metaphor?

To make a metaphor about somebody's running speed, should we say "he is a cheetah" or "he runs like a cheetah"? Why?
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What does “Eat our peas” mean - where does it come from?

In a recent speech about the national debt, Obama said it's time to "Eat our peas". What does it mean - where does it come from?
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Ripe with Opportunity? Or Rife?

The Grammarist says I should use rife with rather than ripe with. So far so good and I agree. But is there an exception for ripe with opportunity? Googlefight overwhelmingly prefers ripe, and I like ...